A collaborative approach to innovation

Tuesday, 10 September, 2019

A collaborative approach to innovation

Learning from the past while embracing the future is a key part of the journey forward.

Craig Wooldridge, A/Executive Director, Urban Mobility, WA Department of Transport, began his career at WA’s Main Roads agency. He progressed through a variety of roles, “learning from some outstanding technical experts”, before heading up Traffic Services and Operations. He said all of the roles he took on provided him “with a diverse and strong range of operational skills and knowledge”, including for a dozen years being the face and voice of Main Roads in the media.

Tell us about your current role and what it entails?

In 2011, I moved to the Department of Transport to expand my strategic planning skills and knowledge by leading a range of strategic plans around the movement of people. During this time, I have also taken on leadership roles with external bodies, including National President of the Australian Institute of Traffic Planning and Management and Chair of Cycling and Walking Australia and New Zealand. The external roles have been critical to expanding my network and developing broader leadership skills at a national level.

Can you describe a current or recently completed project?

One of the most interesting and challenging recent projects would be electric scooters. In Australia and New Zealand, up until mid-2018, the modern form of electric scooter was illegal due to power, speed and time-of-day regulatory restrictions. The regulatory provisions were put in place for what were essentially toy scooters, but technology has changed significantly since the regulations were written in the late 1990s.

Then, only two to three years ago, along came a range of start-up companies with the idea of share electric scooters that can travel up to 25 km/h during the day and night. Many cities around the world have been eager to sign up quickly without exploring the impacts, particularly for pedestrians. Not a day goes by without a media article somewhere in the world with a wide range of views.

In Perth, we have taken a collaborative approach by working with the potential suppliers, a range of state government agencies and local governments. Collaboration always results in outcomes and we have been able to review the learnings from elsewhere and develop a proposal for Perth that should enable new technologies to be trialled and refined, but with strong safety measures in place. At the time of writing, the trial options were being considered by the Ministers for Road Safety and Transport.

Craig Wooldridge head-and-shoulders portrait photo

Craig Wooldridge, A/Executive Director, Urban Mobility, WA Department of Transport

What did you learn from this project?

The regulatory environment has been set up to safeguard the community against adverse impacts, but the current system is not set up for a world of rapid change. Further work at a national level is underway to enable a more flexible approach for electric mobility in the future, which will enable the safe adoption of new technologies. The learnings from the electric scooter work are feeding into the future approach and I am looking forward to the outcomes.

What excites you most about the future?

Simply the unknowns and the opportunity to be part of shaping what the future may be. I take the approach of valuing and learning from the past, while also embracing the future, championing innovation and ensuring that staff and stakeholders are a key part of the journey forward. This should and must result in positive outcomes for the state and community.

What advice would you give someone looking to further their career in government?

Take up the opportunity to help shape the future and deliver real and tangible community outcomes. The public service provides a great diversity of experiences that are essential for any career.

Where do you look for further education?

I explore a variety of sources from academia, LinkedIn, Twitter, experts visiting from other counties and many articles emailed through from professions. The challenge is choosing the materials that are most valuable to build the mind.

Craig Wooldridge spoke at Public Sector Network’s recent Smart Mobility summits. Visit https://events.publicsectornetwork.co/events/ for the full list of upcoming government ICT conferences, workshops and summits.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/vege

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